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February 26, 2010

How Do You Decide Which Books to Buy?

How Do You Decide Which Books to Buy?

By Kathy Sweeney

Last Friday, we started a discussion about book reviews- apparently some professional types saw that blog, and it generated some interesting follow-up discussions.  

So today I'm asking the question.  It's a big one, so I want you to think about your answer, because it is the pot of gold at the end of every writer's rainbow.  And I mean that in every sense.

Think about how you decide - not just what to read - but what books to buy.  Be honest - you can put Anonymous in for the name under your comment if it helps.

Just to get you thinking, here are some variables that the brains in publishing wonder about. In fact, turns out they spend tons of time and money trying to figure them out.  Should they be more concerned about publishing quality work?  Just askin'.  The reality is that if a book doesn't sell, these days it may not matter. Ditto for a crap book that sells well.  Don't get me started.  But this is about what YOU think - so feel free to ignore these issues if you already know your answer.

Do you buy whatever book is "so HOT right now"?

Oprah's Book Club aside, how much impact does a TV interview, or a big publicity campaign have on your decision to actually buy a book?  Unless, you know, they snap a photo of Johnny Depp reading it - while in his Jack Sparrow pirate costume.  Then, of course, you buy it because it's got to be hard to retain that cat's attention.

WHERE you buy books - does it matter?

This one is tricky because - wait for it - the very, very disturbing news is that nearly HALF the books sold in this country aren't even sold at bookstores!  That's right - Sam's Club, Costco, Target, Wal-Mart - they buy so many books that they can cut deals with the publishers so they can sell them at big discounts.  Hey - I love Costco.  But I don't buy my books there.  Not worth it for me as a big reader.  I don't mind Costco's big bosses choosing the cereals (would it kill you to get Life every once in awhile?) but I don't want them - or God forbid, Sam Walton - deciding which books get published.  Oops.  I was pretending to be objective about this.

Same Author, Different Book

If you like an author, does it make a difference?  Are you more willing to try a new book or series if it's by an author you already know?  On the other hand, if an author keeps 'publishing' but the 'writing' is no longer high quality, do you stick or move on?

Location, location, location

Do you travel via your books?  Are you more likely to buy a book if it's set in Venice?  Your hometown? A Fictional place?

Can You Tell A Book By Its Cover?

Does it matter?  Big time meetings take place about these covers, you know.  How much of an impact does the cover have on your buying decision?


What About Meeting the Author?

I'm leaving this topic wide open - no editorials, because I really want to know.  It's expensive to tour or go to Cons, and some people don't seem to think it helps sales.  Does it make a difference if you meet an author/hear them speak?


I'm asking these questions here because I know TLC is made up of literate people.  People who read books. People who buy at least some of the books they read.  Please do share your thoughts - we want to know!


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I NEVER buy what is “hot” at the moment. It usually means I won’t like it. I tried the first 3 Oprah books and couldn’t finish any of them. So I gave that up.
I do buy a few books at Sam’s. Usually it’s the big boys, King /Grisham. But they don’t have hardly anything that I like. They got into trouble a few years ago for selling books before the drop date. And for a while they had nothing but crap (my term for stuff I don’t read). But they do have odd stuff, interesting no name cookbooks or puzzle books that I doubt if you could find in a regular bookstore. We no longer have an independent bookstore in St. Charles County. I don’t have the time to run to Left Bank Books, so I get most of my books from B & N or Borders. I have to wait sometimes for what I like. Just because the drop date is “today”, doesn’t mean they have the book out. I had to order Hank’s Drive Time online. Neither store had it.
If I like an author I will give them numerous chances to get the next book right. But after a while, if the quality doesn’t go up…off my list they go.
Yes, location matters for me. There are certain locales that I just don’t enjoy for a particular genre. English mysteries? No. English romances? Yes. It just depends on the author and story.
When I am looking for a new mystery author to try, I do look at the cover. I have a particular style of cover that is almost always on books I like. And the opposite is true. If I don’t like the cover, it takes more to convince me to try it.
Meeting an author doesn’t mean that much to me, as far as buying habits. Hearing them talk about the story or character development, or about their stoke (you always tell the best stories, Elaine) may get me to give them a chance & read the blurb but it is no guarantee.
Word of mouth does more for me. If my sister likes it, I will give it serious consideration. I read the reviews in PW, on B & N.com and go from there.

Great blog Kathy!

Sorry that was so disjointed. I'm tired and its late, lol.

1. I never buy a book 'that's so hot right now' if a celeb touts it, I'm more likely to ignore it and leave it on the shelf.

2. I buy my books at a book store

3. I will buy a new book/series by an author I know, but it had better as good or better than others I've read.

However, I'm always on the lookout for new authors. I love a good first book where you can tell that the author put their heart and soul into writing.

(Will I stick with an author? I will until I find the books have become a yawn or too predictable.)

4. The location isn't as important as is drawing me in enough that I don't care where it is located or that I can visualize it from wonderful, simple (often only two sentence) descriptions.

5. It's never the cover that sells me. However, a clever title will often attract me.

6. I love meeting the authors.

What sells me on a book? Those all important first few paragraphs is what.

For me it's all about the writing. Write well and I'll read the book. Write poorly and I won't.

Ohhh boy. I read both by genre (I prefer cozy mysteries over anything else, though I like some paranormal too); and author. There are some authors I read anything they write; and some I'm more selective. Meeting an author or having an acquaintanceship with them via Facebook or blog DOES definitely influence me - for example, I loved Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series already, but then I met her - and now I would buy anything she wrote, up to and including the phone book.
As for where I buy books: I buy online, because I buy ebooks. Mainly from Books on Board, Diesel Ebooks, or B&N because I prefer epub format. Distant last place to buy is Amazon. Not only do they not sell in epub format, but proprietary anything drives me up a wall. Not to mention "the recent unpleasantness". (I always wanted to use that phrase - Southern women used to use it to refer to the Woah Between the States).
Sorry, got a little off topic there. I'm much more willing to take a chance on a "new to me" author since I went to ebooks. Covers mean less to me now, too, although a good cover will certainly make me take a second look. But really, for me it's all about the genre. I've heard lots of people say the cozy market is glutted. There's a lot out there, all right, but I'm having a blast. Some things have to sit on my wishlists a little longer than they would if there wasn't so much good stuff out there, but I'm just glad I'm spoiled for choice! Location? Not so much, although if a series is set in Texas it'll move up on my "to buy" list automatically, because I'm a native Texan.
Last thing; and it's not really something you asked for in this post, but I have seen the topic a lot lately. I don't read reviews. I actively avoid reading reviews. So what's HOT doesn't affect me, because most of the time I don't know what is and what isn't. I just know what I like. The opposite side of that coin, though, that even if I absolutely love a book, I don't WRITE reviews either - because I'm lousy at it. Sure, I can tell you I loved the book, but it always comes out sounding like fan girl gushiness. So I content myself with handing out five star ratings at Goodreads and let it stand at that.

BOOKS TO BUY: Reviews, recommendations, or simple curiosity. More than once I've been pleasantly surprised by an 'impulse' purchase or a 'damn, this is the only thing that looks remotely interesting'; Michael Slade out of Canada comes to mind back in 1983. I read PW, and listen to what my friends say about what they've read recently, but have no qualms about snatching up the latest from a favorite author: Parker, Sandford, Cussler, Wilson, etc.

BOOK THAT'S HOT: No, sorry. Too many stinkers that way. I know it'll come a shock to everyone here, but I prefer to make up my own mind.

WHERE TO BUY: Sadly, I am a Book Slut. No shame. Amazon to B&N to Murder by the Book to Mystery Lovers (Hi, MA and Richard!) to airport newsstands to the rare (these days) spinner racks in a convenience store. (Yes, some still have them.) When it comes to buying books, I have no shame. None.

SAME AUTHOR, DIFFERENT BOOK: If the Different Book intrigues me, I'll buy it. If it doesn't, I don't.

LOCATION: Immaterial to me. If it's good and grabs me, I don't care where it's set.

COVER: Marketing wisdom has it, if a customer picks a book up, that's half the battle. Some covers work and some don't. I usually rely on jacket flap/backcover/first five pages.

MEETING THE AUTHOR: Had some terrific experiences meeting some authors, had some bad ones with other authors. Thanks to TLC, I've discovered the Wonderfulness of Tart Books, which chances are I'd have not read prior to backblogging/meeting. Now that I've discovered them, buying a New Book by a Book Tart is an automatic thing.

Fascinating stuff so far! I am going to try to stay objective and just pay attention. At least until the sun comes up. hah.

I like to browse through the books down at Main Street Books in old St. Charles, they have a really decent selection of books and they have author readings and signings as well. I have purchased a few books from Costco, but those have generally been impulse purchases when we're shopping for other things.

I usually stay away from the "hot books". Although I do look for reviews and recommendations from friends or people I trust.

I read a lot. A LOT. I do read different genres, but I really enjoy Science Fiction and Mystery the best. Although, I have to admit now that my daughter is old enough to pick out her own books, I'm reading her books to her and not nearly as much as my own stuff.

Because of my interest in Science Fiction, I attend a local convention (Archon http://archonstl.org) and manage to meet a lot of authors I read there and buy a lot of books there as well.

I look at book covers, but I'll look at the first chapter if I have time or read the blurb on the back to see if it is interesting. Book covers don't sell me, but they are good at grabbing my attention first.

I'll generally look at a book from an author I know over an unknown if I'm just looking for something to read. I've sometimes had great luck hitting the bargain bins and finding something I probably would not have otherwise picked up. I like to do a little research before I buy a book, I have a list of books that I want to get, and I generally buy a book from the list.

Anyway, that my two cents worth.

Like William, I am a Book Slut. She who dies with the most books wins, right? I buy from Mystery Lovers and the church rummage sale/library book sale. I will not buy from the big box folks. If Oprah recommends it, I refuse to read it. I am a BIG user of the library (and being from Pittsburgh, we have a fantastic Carnegie interlibrary system). A big beef of mine in buying books has to do with the cover art. I hate it when publishers reissue books by established, prolific authors with a "new look". Even checking copyright dates, I've managed to purchase books I've read long ago.

I just buy what Kathy says.

Okay, and also--suggestions from trusted pals and booksellers (hi MLB!!)..and today I'm with Julie Hyzy and Karen Olson in North Carolina on a bookstore and library tour-- so I'll report back!

Off to the road..great chat, Kathy...and perfect for blog 1701.

Author: I look at my favorite authors' latest offerings and try to buy. But if it's in hardcover, I may wait for the paperback. But not always. I have dropped authors whose work no longer delights me. Tempus fugit
Cover: If I know the author, the cover isn't so important, but otherwise, a good cover will catch my attention and I will pick it up and look at it. It's important.
Where: I buy at bookstores and online. There is nothing like hunting for a book and picking up possibilities! However, I live in the boonies, so shopping online is nearly a necessity.
Publicity: I scour the book review section of the newspaper and look up those that sound interesting. The closest major daily newspaper mainly does articles on authors who are visiting the city bookstores. I don't go to see the author, but I pay attention to the publicity. I also get ideas from Amazon choices, although they are not always exactly on target.
I don't read depressing books. Sorry. I watch the news.

HOT books - Don't buy unless I'm interested in the subject. However, when I was in a book group, we did a lot of hot books that I would not have otherwise read, and I enjoyed many.

WHERE DO I BUY? Bookstore or online. There are a couple of independents in my area, and I hit those first. For pleasure, I generally buy in a store. For reference and/or research works, I generally buy online, because the works aren't stocked in stores.

AUTHOR LOYALTY- I am very loyal to a few authors, will read everything they write. Other authors, if I like a first book, I'll read a second, until I lose interest for whatever reason.

LOCATION - A book with a location in the South perks with me, but I'm not opposed to any particular location.

BOOK COVERS - Meh. So many look alike and have nothing to do with the content.

MEETING THE AUTHOR - I would not hold it against an author if s/he did not do personal appearances. However, a fab author talk is a treat. I happened upon one recently that was terrific, so I bought the hardback on the spot, even though I was not familiar with the title. I just wanted to support the guy.

The three elements that influence me most in book buying are:
1. Word of mouth
2. Reviews from reviewers I have come to know are balanced and open
3. Opening paragraph. Always read it.

Love this blog. I may need the gong to get me to stop.

I do not buy HOT books. I do not buy because Oprah or Kelly or someone recommend them, nor do I buy because there are ads all over the damn place. I will sometimes read a review in the newspaper (either the Philadelphia Inquirer or USA Today, both of which are delivered to our house) or in a magazine, and think the book sounds interesting, and put it on my list. Most times in that case, however, if it's an author new to me, I will try it from the library first. I have come to rely almost exclusively on word of mouth from people I know or who read books I like. I have bought many books from recommendations here, either from backbloggers or guest bloggers. I often hear about someone new to me, and try their books from the library, and if I like them, will buy everything they wrote. Two examples of this in the last year or so are Louise Penny and Julia Spencer-Fleming. I buy each of the Tarts' books automatically when they come out. I will sometimes respond to "buzz", and buy a book based on that - for instance, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, or The Help.

I have friends and sisters who read, and have similar reading interests, and I will take their recommendations. One friend in particular works in a bookstore, and I take her recommendations at her word. However, she knows me well enough not to recommend vampire books or other stuff she knows I won't read, even if she loves them.

I know I will not be popular for this, but I will buy books almost anywhere. BJs, Target, Used Book Stores, library sales, Amazon, and of course, bookstores. I'm sorry - I buy a lot of books, and if I can get a deal, that's a good thing. I do appreciate the independent booksellers and their personal service, and community importance, and recommendations, and if I had one closer to me I would probably haunt the place, if not beg them to let me work there. There are three that I regularly buy from, either online (MLB) or by traveling to get there. I have one bookstore within 10 miles of my house (not counting a used bookstore), and it's a Borders Express in the mall. I always buy my favorite authors new, and as soon as possible. I will say, in hopes it will prevent my demise, that most of the books I buy from used bookstores are the backlists from newly discovered authors. If I find a new mystery series, for example, I refuse to start in the middle, so I'll go buy all the books from the beginning and start with number one.

One comment that you didn't ask for: I like mysteries, and there are many of them in series. If a series starts out in paperback and changes halfway through to hardback, I WILL NOT BUY THE BOOKS UNTIL THE PAPERPBACK COMES OUT. (I think I I really hate this practice, if anyone is asking. I love the JD Robb books, and to this day will not buy them until 6 months later, because I don't want a mix of paperback and hardback on my shelves. Sorry, I'm anal.

I'm definitely more likely to try a new book from an author I already like, even if it's different from what they've done before. For example, I loved Bubbles and the Blackbirds, so I had no qualms at all about trying the new ventures from Sarah and Nancy - I know I'll love them. At the same time, if an author's writing stops appealing to me, I will give them one or two shots, but I will stop if it doesn't get better. There are too many books on my list that I want to read, to read something I don't enjoy.

Covers are not a huge deal in the decision for me, I mostly buy by author, sometimes subject. However, I love me a good cover. I don't buy based on location often, though I like small-town settings, and love English mysteries.

I love meeting the authors, especially when I already love their books. I don't have the funds to attend many conferences, so I get really excited when someone I read is going to be nearby. I also love the chance we have now to get to know authors on the internet, through blogs, newsletters, websites, Facebook, etc.

I'm sure I forgot something, but you've probably stopped reading at this point anyway. ;)

Thanks for asking.

My parentheses after the buying in hardback thing were supposed to be, that I think I broke this rule with Nancy's Blackbird books. I have a mixture of both paperback and hardcover in those.

I buy books that I want to read. I rarely buy what is hot. For instance “The Help” came out in Feb 2009 and I read in last month. I’ve never liked Oprah’s book selections. I do look for suggestion among friends, Goodreads and various authors’ blog.

I love going into stores (B&N) and checking out the shelves for my books. If B&N does not have the book, I buy it online. I also buy my books from Amazon. Because I buy lots of books, I have to go with whoever has the best price. I’d rather buy three paperbacks versus one hardcover for the same money. For those books that I don’t buy, I utilize my local library.

I love discovering new-to-me authors. If authors are writing new series, I’ll follow them. If an author’s quality of work diminishes, I will no longer buy their work.

I love books where I at least know the location even if it’s fictional. The majority of books I read take place within the U.S., although some do take place outside.

The cover is going to attract me in picking up a book, especially by a new-to-me author. I also pay attention to the title, the blurb and that first paragraph.

I love meeting authors and once I do, I will automatically buy their books, well, as long as it in the genre that I read. I’m going to my first Malice Convention in April and I can’t wait.

I admit it -- I'm pretty shallow. If it is an author I don't know, I base much of my judgment on the cover and the descriptive blurb on the back or on the jacket flap. Location settings are important to me, but not a deal breaker.

Thanks for starting this conversation. I'm a librarian responsible for buying for the library and this has been eye-opening to me. I never stopped to think about the intricacies of "what makes something hot" and I'm horrified!

HOT books -- As a writer, I read a lot of comments (not full reviews) by other writers and readers. If I hear about something multiple times, from people whose opinion I respect, I'll go looking for it. But there are always a few that I hear about and know I have to have.

WHERE DO I BUY? Bookstores and signings mainly. My daughter works in a large independent bookstore, so I ask her to pick up most new paperback new releases I want. I go online only if the book if out-of-print or hard to find.

AUTHOR LOYALTY- Some authors I just fall in love with. If it's true love, I might even buy the hardcover.

LOCATION - Anywhere, as long as it's believable (and that includes the quirky local characters).

BOOK COVERS - I know too much about what goes on behind the scenes to take these seriously--often the author has no control, and the cover may have little to do with the book. But I salute the eye-catching ones.

MEETING THE AUTHOR - I'll admit it--I'm a shameless groupie. I love meeting authors and getting a signed book. I do feel that if I engage an author in conversation, I'm obligated to buy a book from him or her. (The reverse of that is the sad case in which I and others veer far out of our way to avoid any eye-contact with a signing author.), just so we don't have to buy a book. It gets even worse when the author is someone you know, and you know just how hard he or she has been pushing that book. Yes, I make some pity purchases (and hope they return the favor!).

Good questions, all. As a bookseller, sometimes I think I'm my own best customer :o) But that's another story...

BOOK THAT'S HOT: No. In fact, too much hype makes me wonder whether the publishers believe in the book or whether they're trying to convince others to...and Oprah? I usually don't read what she recs unless severl people rec it as well.
WHERE TO BUY: Depends. I lean toward B&N because I work there(discount)but we have good used book stores in town as well as a library. If I'm not sure of an author, I usually try one of the latter. Not so hard to justify a smaller price for an author I don't know well. When I travel, any bookstore I see becomes home, even when I don't need a book. I've found some good regional authors (like Tim Gautreaux) that way.
SAME AUTHOR, DIFFERENT BOOK: Not always. If I enjoyed his or her others, it's a better bet I'll read the jacket,and scan the pages though. If it grabs me, then sure.

LOCATION: Not that important, although I'm not fond of the author relying too much on the locations and not enough on the characters. But, if I've traveled there, it helps.

COVER: Not always, but a garish cover can turn me off. So can one that is monochromatic. I do however read the blurbs and the jacket cover. What's inside is the most important.

MEETING THE AUTHOR: I love meeting the authors, especially at conferences...even if I am basically shy(oh yes I am). Usually I've already read some of their work, so I have something to comment on...and I've only had one bad author experience( she shall remain nameless because maybe she was having a bad day...I'd hate to think she brushed off all her readers like that)and it was a while before I bought another of her books. I was hooked on one of her series. New stuff by her, I doubt it. I've started reading some great authors because I met them at a conference though...David Morrell, Kent Krueger to name two. And I love to recommend them (as well as the Tarts).
Lately my timing seems to be off though. So far, Catherine has had to stand in for me in Portland several times...she will this year with Alafair Burke, who signs in Portland a three days before I go to visit! Argh.
Good post Kathy :o) Hope you're not snowed in again!

If the authors are my friends, I buy the books in hardcover, almost always at an indie bookstore, in a perfect world at their booksigning, or when I see them at conferences (even though it's a strain on the suitcase.)

After that, it's all downhill. If I'm in a bookstore, I'll try anything that catches my eye, or that the indie bookstore owner tells me I must read (esp. Linda or Bobby at LA's Mystery Bookstore) -- but I'll try it in paperback.

For research, I want something immediately and I want it to come to my doorstep, so I'll go to Amazon, and I'll buy it in pb, but I'll always buy it new.

For my son, who's only 7 but a hopeless addict, I may buy a used book because, paradoxically, some kids' books are HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS if new.

I don't care if a book is hot, and I don't care where it's set (unless I'm going on vacation, and then I love books set where I'm vacationing), and I don't care about the cover. I care a lot about the first paragraph.

I just have to share one of life's traumatic moments. My son had read a book at school called FELIX EXPLORES PLANET EARTH and was telling me all about it and I said we could buy it and went online and discovered it new -- for over $300. I nearly had a heart attack.

It's a really great book, but sometimes one has to pay the mortgage. We are now the proud owners of a used copy. Apologies to the author. Profound apologies. Mea culpa.

There. I'm a cradle Catholic, it's Lent, it's a Friday, I feel better for having confessed.

1- I don't buy hot books. Really. I think everyone else said that, but really. How'd they get hot if no one buys them?
2- I DO buy by author. I'd read some author's grocery list if they published it.
3- I've only bought one book (that I remember) because the cover caught my attention. The back cover blurb sold the book. The I bought the rest of that author's books.
4- If the author is one of my fav's, I'd buy a book with a happy face sticker on the cover. (That's a Suz Brockmann story)
5- I buy my books where I find them, BUT my favorite place is a bookstore. DH and I have spent many happy evenings browsing in bookstores.
6- I've bought many books I've never read. If the author is a friend, I'll buy it. Gotta support the buds.

How do I decide which books to Buy?
Word of mouth, friend’s suggestions and TLC. I never read reviews, everyone has their own idea of what is a good book and I don’t need anyone whispering in my ear. TLC. I arrived at this site about 2 years ago, after finishing Michele Martinez's series and found this link on her website. Since I found the Tarts, I have read all of your books and look forward to every new one. I just finished Hank's and I just picked up Robin Burcell's books following her blog last week. If you look at my reading list over the last 5-6 years, it is like playing six degrees of separation of how I found each new author. So, Thank You.

Do you buy whatever book is "so HOT right now"?
No! and I don't watch Oprah or look at her book list. I like the mystery genre and stick with it.

WHERE you buy books - does it matter?
If I want to 'try out' a new author, I typically will first check the book out of the library. If I like it and the author has written other books, I will buy the books. I decided to buy books and now have a growing library since I will often go back and re-read an author and his/her books many times. When I buy a book, my current choices are limited to Borders or online. Through this blog, I have found MLB and have ordered from them. I do not buy from Sam's or Walmart. I have found better selection of books at the airport!

Same Author, Different Book
Definitely! If I like the author, I will read all of their books, almost to a fault. Example : James Patterson. The writing quality has deteriorated over the years, but I always borrow his new ones from the library when they come out (I never buy his books) I look at it like a contest...so how many hours will it take me to finish this book? Last one only took 3.5 hours. When reading a series, I get 'invested' in those characters and hate to seem them stop, but that wouldn't prevent me from reading the new series from the same author. Case in point. I ordered Nancy’s new book weeks ago.

Location, location, location
This does not enter into my decision making process to buy/read a book.

Can You Tell A Book By Its Cover?
Again, not as important to me as the writing and the author. Authors that I have read, I won't even read the book jacket. I'm always afraid of learning too much of the plot before I begin reading.

What About Meeting the Author?
Yes, this is always fun. I like to listen to them talk about their process, developing and writing the story, etc. When I lived in NYC, I had my choice of book signings. Now, that I live in Iowa, there is next to nothing. Last Saturday, I drove 7 hours round trip to listen to a panel of authors in “Felonious February”. Alafair Burke, J.A. Konrath, Tom Schreck and others.

I buy everything. Everywhere.

Although I appreciate readers who buy my hardcovers (hey, we authors can't live on air!) I understand the whole paperback price tag thing. And libraries. I don't travel much anymore because this is business for me, and I have to watch the bottom line.

Great answers from everyone!

I once had a dancer say to me after telling me about an author she loved that she forgot I didn't read.
Now tell me honestly...if you are on a train or a plane, bus or any other mass public transport system with people you don't know, how could you tell if a person read books or not? I mean besides the obvious fact they had their nose in one right there what would make you say they spent time and money on books? Go to a book store and there is a good chance the other people there read books. But really what sets us apart from people that only watch TV or go to sporting events?
My answer to that young kid was that she never saw me reading because she only saw me at rehearsal or performance where I was working. No time to read backstage for live theatre. Now Harley can tell you you can read volumes on a set where hurry up and wait is the norm. But you hardly have time to change costumes for live theatre.
I listen to my friends...or my son actually to select reading material. Reading is a luxury. It is also a gift. I send my son my bonus awards certificate to Amazon so he can send me a nice birthday present. Friends ask what I want for my birthday and I do the same mentioning the newest Tart's book hint hint.
I love to go to the Books & Books in Coral Gables just to look when I have time and I'm in the neighborhood. For me it is eye candy. The Miami Book Fair is a yearly treat I never miss unless I'm working.
A fabulous date is to go to dinner, a movie and a book store afterwards. If any men folk are reading this it is the way to my heart BTW.
And cover art will attract me. Just like food packaging. I'll buy the product in the curvy cute bottle over a wishbone shaped one at least once. I buy my wine the same way. Fat Bastard over name brands any day.
I'm just like a trout and bite at anything shiney.
I'm with the genre thing too. Reading is a pleasure. A well written story sends my imagination soaring and the characters take on their own lives. I love/hate/sympathize and cheer for them. Don't ask me to read whatever the Sci fi crazy stuff is called unless you're paying me to do so.
And crap is crap even if it is sugar coated on Ophra's list.
Write on Tarts! Right on!

Wow - it seems we all have a lot in common!

BOOK THAT'S HOT: Depends. I won't buy a book solely because of hype, nor will I reject a book just because it gets a lot of buzz. Hype will bring a book to my attention, at which point I may do some research on it (check quality reviews; read excerpts online). If it sounds good, I may buy it.

WHERE TO BUY: I don't have a local indy, so I do the bulk of my buying at our local B&N (where my husband and I spend many a lovely weekend afternoon drinking coffee and browsing), B&N online (for e-books that I download to my iPod Touch), and Mystery Lovers. I like the bricks-and-mortar experience of browsing, I insist on always having 2-3 books on my iPod for emergency reading, and I love using ML for authors I've learned about online and am trying for the first time. I also try to use them for all my special orders.

SAME AUTHOR, DIFFERENT BOOK: You damn betcha. For an author who writes stand-alones, I'll continue that pattern until I buy 2 in a row that I don't like, at which point I figure the love affair is over (I just bought the first dud from one of my all-time faves, and am desperately hoping he doesn't repeat the pattern!). If it's a series, I'll keep buying until I get tired of it (this usually happens when I feel like I'm reading the same plot over and over again, and/or when the main characters refuse to grow and change). If it's a new series, I'll give it a shot, no questions asked.

LOCATION: Doesn't matter for the purpose of purchase. Of course, location can add greatly to my enjoyment of the book, but it's not a factor in decision-making.

COVER: I, like most humans, am a visual animal, so of course I look at covers and am more attracted to some than to others. An interesting cover will get me to pick up a book; at that point, though, the real decision-making apparatus kicks into gear. I look at blurbs (not only what they say but also who wrote them), read the cover copy, and ALWAYS read the first paragraph (or more in some cases).

MEETING THE AUTHOR: I haven't had many opportunities to do this (I am, goddess willing, attending both the VA Festival of the Book and Malice Domestic this year!!!!!), so I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes for me. If I liked an author more than I liked his/her books, I'm pretty sure I'd still at least buy the paperbacks.

The bottom line is that I know what I like in a book and work hard to find as wide a variety of satisfying, enjoyable books as I can. I'm always looking for new authors to enjoy, and use all kinds of methods to find them: online browsing, word of mouth, etc. Seriously, one of the most effective (in terms of my actually going out and buying new stuff) has been "meeting" new authors on this blog! I check out every guest author and have bought at least first books by many of them. It's the best kind of word-of-mouth, in my opinion. Another way I've found some great books is from the occasional "what are you reading" blogs here. It's all good :)

What a great post. I didn't think I would find many Oprah fans here. And you can add me to the never bought an "Oprah" book and never plan to. The simple fact is that most of the books in her club do not interest me in the least. I have looked at the back cover blurbs and I can find a better use for $20.00.

Ditto any of the daytime shows. I wouldn't know it was on the Today show unless there was a sign in the book store.

WHERE you buy books - does it matter?

When it comes to actually buying a book, I like book stores. I try hard to like Barnes & Noble, but the fact is the Borders by my house has a better selection, better price and for the most part, better staff. And if you happen to work at or manage the BN in West County Center, don't expect me in your doors this decade. Your staff sucks and other places sell the same stuff with a better attitude.

I spend a lot of time in the car so I also spend a lot of time with NPR. I jot down a book and then look it up on Amanzon. I do read the reviews on Amanzon, too. I almost always read the lowest rated review as well as the highest. Frequently a low rating has more to do with the reviewers biases than the book itself.

After reading some comments, a book will go on my list, and then I am off to the store. I use Librarything.com to keep my book lists. http://www.librarything.com/home/aportman

I shop book fair (April 29th - May 2nd, 2010) and just about any book store. Sam's, Target, etal. don't stock most of what I buy.

Actually, wondering the book shelves in the store can be dangerous. The last time Elaine was in St. Louis, we planned on buying two copies of her newest book. We ended up leaving with 8 books.

Same Author, Different Book

There are a few author's that we buy their newest when it comes out. Elaine Viets and JD Robb come to mind. I have read all of Michael Crichton, but since he has passed, that will probably stop. There is a "new" Crichton book out, but after reading reviews, I am waiting for the paperback.

Can You Tell A Book By Its Cover?

The cover may make me pick up a book, but rarely buy it. I might write down the ISBN to look it up later and see if it is worth the price.

What About Meeting the Author?

We attend several book signings. The princesses think it is neat to have signed books. We have a large collection of autographed books. There are a few local children's authors who have done book signings and the girls loved it. Byron von Rosenberg did a few at Grant's Farm last summer. He also signed poems for children even if you didn't buy a book. For you author's, signing at Grant's Farm means a table in the shade (not that it helps much) in front of a gift shop for 6 hours in the St. Louis summer. He works hard for his fans.

If any of you will be stopping in St. Louis on a book tour, post it. I will probably be there with the princesses and cash.

I don't take the reviews to seriously. But sometimes they do offer plot points that the blurb on the back doesn't. If a person said they like this book as much as they like Elaine's Dead End Jobs, I'll buy it in a heartbeat.

Its just another informational tool.

Hot Books: I don't pay much attention. Unless I trust the reviewer, or the person recommending a book, I'm cautious.

Where to Buy: I prefer to buy paperback, but having said that, I don't like the trade size $15.00 ones. If I'm getting paper, $8 is the max my budget allows. I'm a single mom on a budget, I buy from almost anywhere, except Sam's - their book aisle is filled with "hot stuff", churchy stuff (and I even like that stuff, but don't like it at the expense of everything else unless I'm in my favorite Christian bookstore.) or reprints.

Author Loyalty: I have some auto-buy authors and I've followed several of them across different genres. I'll try new authors if I get a trusted recommendation or intriguing review. I'll usually follow an author's series a long way if I like the first few. It'll usually take 2 or 3 disappointments or downhill quality before I'll totally stop, because I'm anal too, and try to finish what I start.

Location: I read across genres and will read about real places, made up places, similiar to real places and just about everything else - if it grabs my attention.

Book Covers: Are often crap and can't be trusted. I like book covers that help me get a taste of the tone of the book. Covers with people are often jarring as they don't look like the book characters are described or how I imagined them. I do like ones that have whimsical background stuff that I EXPECT to read about in the book.

My Reading/Buying quirk: I NEVER buy a book without reading the first paragraph and the last chapter. A book better deliver the goods, or I won't buy it, or check it out of the library.

Author Meetings: I LOVE meeting favorite authors, but I've met very few. I do search out blogs and author websites.

Sorry, I used up all my correct grammar and punctuation by Wednesday. Today, I got not much left.

Well, Kathy seems to have hit a hot button. I'll keep it short. but first - SUSAN SHAY - that smiling face sticker on Brockman's book..OMG Funny!!!!

Hot Books - Never. Oprah recommends are an automatic avoid for me. Her "taste" in books and mine are not even close.

Where do I buy? Another book slut. I buy everywhere. B&N, BAM, Sam's, Walmart, airport...I don't care.

Same Author/Different Book - will give it a shot. I have quit authors. For me, every book stands alone. I do love series, however.

Location- CAN matter, but more in a negative way than positive way.

Meeting the Author - Yep. I'll admit that I'll buy the books of authors I've met/Authors I consider friends, even if I never read the books. (and I have read Ms. Martin's new book. Can't wait to discuss it here.) On the flip side, there are three authors I've met that I would not buy their books if the price was $1.00 They spent an entire conference making sure everyone knew they were in the "cool" group while the rest of us were on the "outside" They are bestselling authors. Don't care.

If an author signs near me, I go. I buy. I love signing.

Very interesting topic! First, I have to admit that I don’t buy many books anymore except paperbacks (and even those are getting expensive). Money’s tight, I read a lot, and I am a librarian. Just sayin’. I like new paperbacks because they’re in a new condition, ((I don’t like old beat-up paperbacks) but I hardly by hardbacks anymore even if they’re written by my favorite authors. I do like them as gifts though!

I tend not to buy books that are “hot” because I usually don’t like them. Many are poorly written or very depressing. However, I do pride myself on reading a book early on that later becomes very popular - The Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes to mind. I think this is the librarian in me. We pride ourselves on picking those books that become popular. By the way, why do hot books become hot when no one seems to be reading them? Because many people are sheep. They like to be told what to read, they’re unwilling to read something that might be different or challenge them, and they won’t read outside their genre (this is especially true for Inspirationals which may be for obvious reasons). In fact, if you read reviews that are directed towards librarians in Booklist and Library Journal, you’ll see they sometimes say things like, “this book isn’t very good, but you better buy it because, of course, there will be a lot of demand”). Sad, but true. I also think, for some people, reading is something they’re “supposed to do” and if they’re supposed to do it then they should be reading what they perceive as “important books” even if they can’t understand or don’t enjoy them.

When I buy books, I’m sorry to admit I will buy them from just about anywhere including Costco, Amazon, Target, B&N, and the local, quasi-independent (regional chain in MI) bookstore. I don’t have a Sam’s Club membership and I also think there’s some sort of agenda going, but you’d be crazy to think the non-discriminating reading public doesn’t buy their books there.

Location isn’t important to me necessarily, but I do like a well-developed location (even if it’s fictional ) over a generic Anytown. I also like it when the location is almost another character in the book - that the story couldn’t take place just anywhere.

The cover isn’t important to me but I can’t stand a cover that totally misrepresents what the book is about. I do think the covers can contribute to the idea that a book is light fluff when it’s actually a well-written, entertaining story. Just as there are non-discriminating readers there are extreme book snobs that won’t read anything that looks like – horrors! – it might be enjoyable and fun-to-read.

I love meeting authors at conferences. Attending ALA conferences has allowed me to meet some very well-known authors (Charlaine Harris, Michael Connelly, Eloisa James/Mary Bly most recently), children’s authors, and first-time authors. These have almost always been great experiences. I enjoy hearing from first-time authors and the established writers equally, and you can bet those meetings stick out in my mind any time I see another book come out by an author. Also, I just want to say don’t discount your librarian – she or he can booktalk a book or author that a patron wouldn’t necessary read otherwise. I know that’s not the same as buying a book, but it does develop a fanbase and I think especially in the case of a series, keeps a backlist strong. So if you ever get a chance, as an author, to attend a library conference it could be very beneficial. By the way, the library I used to work for has one of the best little apps for figuring the order of a series: http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/WhatsNextNEW.asp

Wow, I really went on – you must have touched a nerve Kathy!

Book slut here. And currently on a very tight budget, so paperbacks are preferred. I like to make my final decisions by reading a few passages at the beginning and in the middle. On-line sucks for this method.

I often buy by author, particularly when I know I am going to have a block of time to read. But I have learned that I can wait for the paperback, even for the authors I love.

A few years ago, I would have said that the cover does not matter. But I think maybe it does--sometimes.

Something that I have only recently had to concern myself with--the type/font/appearance on the page. I have classic age-related changes in vision. Even with my trusty reading glasses (of various strengths and locations), I am irritated by small type and busy appearance. To my surprise, I can also be irritated by scratchy paper--I want a nice, smooth feel. I know that I will soon be yelling at kids to stay off my lawn. I'm getting to be crotchety. But the appearance and feel matter to me, despite my knowledge that they should not be as important as the words. I like the size and style of trade paperbacks for these reasons (at least I think that is the correct term for the mid-size, nicely presented paperbacks--yes?).

Meeting the author makes a difference, but even a mass e-mailing can make a connection--Harlan Coben has mastered this, I think. Ironically, just knowing that an author is willing to take the time to do book-signings is enough for me. I don't have to attend. I know that's contrary and unhelpful, but there you have it.

I pick books usually by authors. If I like a book, then I find all the books she/he wrote. I used to be very hesitant to try new authors, but that's died down a bit. Recommendations from true readers and authors (mainly TLC) are my best source for new authors. Book signings and talks have expanded my author base immensely. I wish more authors held events.

For new authors, the book covers will grab my attention, but the first paragraph has to be good or back to the table it goes.

I pay attention to the hot books, but rarely buy without a recommendation.

Resale shops and library book sales are my favorite place to buy, but I also purchase from MLB, B&N, CostCo, and Amazon. And I only buy new hardbacks from my favorite authors. Our library's selection isn't updated fast enough for me, so I only use them to borrow books on CD.

My two cents worth --

*HOT* books -- NOPE! I will make up my own mind thank you very much and don't consider Oprah a literary expert. I also might see what PEOPLE magazine has to say (my subscription is a long time addiction)

WHERE -- honestly I usually get them from the library first. It is a total cost thing, BUT, if I find an author that I like and the library doesn't have the whole series, I will track down the missing ones and have found that Borders is the better stocked than B&N. I sometimes even check out Half-Price books if a series just came to my attention and I can't find the first couple of books anywhere else.

I did treat myself to Nancy's new one from MLB and I totally blanked that Minneapolis has a wonderful book store - Once Upon A Crime. I even know where it is, but haven't visited it yet. Hope the records get updated at MLB so my name is spelled right ;)

I like checking out bookstores in small towns if I am traveling. College bookstores are also very interesting places to find unusual books. Heather McElhatton wrote Pretty Little Mistakes - a Do Over Novel that has one beginning and 150 endings. It's a book I keep at work for when I don't have anything else to read.

SAME AUTHOR - different book, not an issue for me. I really like the Lorna Landvik books (she's a local) and they are set all over the place. Same with series stuff -- If I like it, I will keep reading it; if I don't like it, I won't.

LOCATION -- Love to read about other areas, especially ones that I probably won't ever get to. Found a series by Laura Childs about a tea shop in Charleston (she is also a local author) and almost laughed out loud when William mentioned the donation to the historical society in return for permission to paint a door. She covers that obsession with historical accuracy in this series.

It is fun to read stories set in my city and the surrounding suburbs. Monica Ferris has a series based on needle arts that are set in Excelsior, which is a teeny tiny town located on Lake Minnetonka. I also enjoy hearing about places I am familiar with.

The long ago and far away settings are okay for a break, but I can only take so much of the bonny green of Ireland descriptions or the rugged highlands of Scotland before I fall alseep. Sci-fi or future fiction are kinda like fudge -- a nice treat, but not a steady diet.

COVERS -- it's a toss up. Something might catch my eye and I'll do the book flap and first chapter review, but other times I will just seek out the authors I know and see what's there.

I have found more authors on this site than I ever dreamed possible, and actually just got the first BobbieFaye book from the library after the author guest blogged. She sucks you right into the story with hurricane force and is also LMAO with some of her descriptions.

(I am all caught up on the TARTS except for Drive Time, which arrived yesterday)

MEETING AUTHORS -- I've only stood in line for book signing once and she was very pleasant. I have been to one book reading only because it was a requirement for a creative writing class. Oops, forgot about the ones for the kids at the Red Balloon.

I don't really know if there are conventions or conferences here -- there probably are, so I have to do some research, get on some e-mail lists, and do something for myself once in awhile. If I'm totally honest, I don't know what to say that the author probably hasn't heard dozens of times before; it is interesting to hear their side of it.

I hope I can get to the east coast in the relatively near future, but for now I am content with the Internet and TLC.

Kathy, since I'm more of a book whore than a book slut, this is a great topic for me. I buy some 300 books a year, and still manage to get some from the library, borrow others, and even stumble across them other places. I can't help myself; reading has been a serious addiction for me since I was three years old, according to my mother.

BOOK THAT'S HOT: I have read some Oprah picks, the early ones. But when she started flogging that ridiculous Echart Tolle book, The Secret, and The Road, she totally lost me. And I'm onto James Patterson now, so I refuse to read "his" books any more. The guy who wrote The Notebook, too--he advertises on TV, for heaven's sake, and I find most of his books mawkish and overly sentimental. Blech.

WHERE TO BUY: I would buy a book I wanted anywhere, including garage sales, dollar stores, and the library book sales. However, I pay full price for my fair share of books, too, and I'm most likely to buy a new author from the sale bin. I collect series books, and like to read them in order, and will pick up the ones I don't have wherever I find them. One of these days I'll have a database like Debby's. Or not.

The one place I really economize is in audio books, which are so super expensive. I refuse to pay full price for them, no matter how "hot" the book is.

SAME AUTHOR, DIFFERENT BOOK: Definitely, at least once. I've stopped reading Patricia Cornwell, though. Her books have gotten so dark and scary that it's no longer fun for me to read them. Generally, if I like an author for one series, I enjoy all of them. The one exception to this is Charlaine Harris. And I'm contrary to others regarding her books: her Sookie series is the one I don't read, but I enjoy her Aurora Teagarden books and LOVE the darker Harper Connelly series.

LOCATION: Any is fine, and like Harley, if I'm traveling somewhere, especially if it's a new place, I like to read books that take place there.

COVER: Not especially important, although an eyecatching cover has led me to a new author. And since colorful covers these days have a look to them that telegraphs their genre, I do tend to slide past certain types.

MEETING THE AUTHOR: I'm less likely to meet a new author, unless I've read and loved at least one of their books. As an author myself I know that we are just people, and am not as much in awe of writing ability as others might be, even though telling a good story is nothing like writing nonfiction. But I am uncomfortable with getting a lot of gushy praise for my writing, so I figure others feel the same.

Also, there's a difference between meeting someone in person, and corresponding with them via Facebook, a blog, or some other way. That's one of the reasons TLC is so enjoyable, perhaps. We get to "meet" lots of authors here, including your many guests.

However, in person, I've gotten to see Hank (at Bouchercon this past fall, where I also met Tasha Alexander), and Elaine, Diane Mott Davidson, and Homer Hickam, and meeting them makes reading their work even more enjoyable. I'd someday love to meet the rest of the Tarts in person, and also Diana Gabaldon, Barbara Kingsolver (I have met her parents), Sue Grafton, and Craig Ferguson. As I said, I have eclectic tastes!

Naturally, I left something out. Here in Cincinnati we are so, so fortunate. We not only have Borders, B&N and Half-Price Books, but we also have Books-A-Million, Joseph Beth, and some seriously lovely children's books stores, plus one of the best public libraries in all of Christiandom. In fact, Cincinnati is considered one of the top five most literate cities in the US, consistently. So if any of you Tarts are on book tour, you should very seriously consider a stop here. And you can stay at Chez Maz, too. We have two guest rooms, and I provide top notch chauffeur service!

My name is Marie and I am a book addict.
It started eight years ago at my local Barnes and Noble store. I was enticed by Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie and Lori Foster.
Location became a non issue because concealing book purchases from the grocery store became high drama to me as I slinked into the house disguising my books with the bananas.
I found myself buying authors who had written a whole series. And then I couldn't stop. Jayne Ann Krentz, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood,many historicals and let's not forget romantic suspense because then I could mention the mystery and not the hot romance.
I signed up for author newsletters and then the real trouble began because then I knew when to expect the next debut of the novels. Sometimes, it got so bad that numerous author titles were going to be in the bookstores the same day and I had this passionate run to the store to load up. When my husband asked me how many books I bought I lied. If it was seven I would say "only five".
Then I discovered TLC and the next opportunity began. I shared my books with my daughters but luckily they are not addicted unless you call "The New Moon" series and other vampiry books.
Art work for me is sometimes a way to weed out a lot of useless books. The bright covers usually convince me that a chic wrote the book about magic or love on the run with an ex navy seal or a cop who is there in the nick of time for the little hot number who does not want to be saved unless he moves in with her. He always moves in with her.
I went to one signing where my daughter's school chum from kindergarten was signing at Barnes and Noble.
If I want to discuss books without being ashamed of my passion for lusty books then I talk about Robert B Parker and Carl Hiassen and people think that I might be erudite.
Meeting authors for me would be like meeting a rock star. I am so in awe and would probably spout out some inane comment as I do so frequently.
I do not order online very much.
I am very possessive of my books. I sometimes give a sick friend a book and then try to find it again at the store because I feel lost without it.
My book therapist would counsel me that I need to become more discriminate about my choices. I need to seek out the more high-falutin' titles that appear on hoit-toity book lists and interview shows.
For now the addiction has caused a little problem because I must relinquish some of the stash to get more booty when I get the dreaded newsletter to get MORE BOOKS.

I buy Elaine's books, and a few other favorite authors, and I buy storytelling books because I know I'll be wanting to refer back to them. I used to buy books for the book discussion groups I went to (and then usually give them to the library afterward. With over-flowing bookshelves and limited bank account, I use the library more and more.
** BTW, I will be doing storytelling at Borders Mid-Rivers tomorrow at 11 -- they will have both my CDs for sale.
Saturday, March 13, 1 p.m. I'll be at Main Street Books.

You guys are the best! Such wonderful insights - and I'm happy to read that the blog is the source for new books for many of you. Since I know all the authors personally, I am really glad you found them through TLC!

I'll bet the marketing types would pay big bucks for this kind of feedback. Maybe I'll try to sell it and we'll all go on a cruise. Kidding. Although, as I've said before, if I ever hit the big lottery, we are all going on vacation together. Someplace sunny and warm!

Have I told you how much I love you, Kathy? What a generous offer. Which you know we are SO taking you up on.

Wait, you are buying lotto tickets, right?

Oops, forgot location.
I am drawn to books about the South..Mary Kay Andrews and some of Linda Howard titles reel me in every time.

Kathy, if we promise to use Italy as a stepping stone to research for a future novel would you pay for a Mediterrean cruise....please, please...please?

Just fyi - I googled Oprah's Book Club and found that I have, in fact, read many of those books (she's done a lot of classics as well as contemporary fiction); I was also reminded that she led me to discover Barbara Kingsolver via The Poisonwood Bible.

Just sayin' . . .

I buy most of my books at an independant bookstore not far from my house. I don't buy them based on a cover, but I do love a good cover and remember the ones I liked.

I have certain authors that I auto buy. But I have been known to *give up* when they lose steam. I have a spefic series in mind that I won't mention.

I tend not to like the *hot* books. I never understand how or why they are considered the one I can't miss.

Picking books...I spend a lot of time on authors websites. Reading what's coming, who they read or recommend. I do read the reviews. Bad or good I might read the book. A review is still just one persons opinion. If the blurb about the book is interesting enough the review might not matter.

As for meeting the authors... I love it. I've even met some authors, never having read anything by them and then purchased a book. I found an author that is now an auto buy that way.

I am defininely willing give a book, different from a series, a shot if its an author that I already like the writing style of.

Now I'm just rambling. This was a great blog.

William and ArkCyndi - Add me to the book slut list. Reading has always been my favorite past-time. My husband says I'm addicted, and he's right. My favorite place to go "out" is to our local Barnes & Noble. It's like my second home, and the staff is wonderful. But since I buy so many books, I look for the lowest price to save money.

Oprah books - Never, ever, ever will I buy them! In my opinion, the books are too boring and depressing. I prefer uplifting, lighthearted mysteries and ghost or ESP-type paranormal fiction.

Book trailers - Not that you asked, but I think they're a waste of the author's/publisher's money. I'm not going to buy a book based on the short clip I see, I'm more interested in how the story is written, something the trailers can't express.

Book buying habits - Because I'm a major book slut, I don't have a problem buying a good read at any location. However I do have a problem with the stacks of books in my house. That's why I now buy mostly ebooks for my iTouch-BECAUSE IT'S IN COLOR. Sorry, I had to yell. I won't buy a Kindle or Nook or any other device until it can display the whole book in color. I prefer to buy Barnes & Noble's ebooks because their application allows a change in font color, style and background. However, Amazon tends to have more or frequently cheaper cozy mysteries in ebook form than B&N, so I purchase there too.

Covers - The cover can make it or break it for me, and its a huge part of my reading experience. Many are a work of art too (i.e., the cover for Karen Olson's first Tattoo Shop mystery series was entered into an art competition). Give me lively covers like on Elaine Viets Dead End Shop mysteries, Nancy Martin's Blackbird Sisters mysteries and Karen Olson's Tattoo Shop Mysteries any day. I really loved the first two of Toni McGee Causey's Bobby Faye books. After I saw the original cute, colorful and quirky cover of the first one, I had to pick it up and read a few pages. But (sorry Toni) if I were to see those books on the shelf now with their new monochromatic covers, I'd not even pick them up to read the blurb on the back. The covers are too boring.

Favorite Authors - If I find an author I like, I'll buy her books whenever a new one comes out. If she adds a new series, I'll follow her there too. It takes several books before I decide not to read that author any more. I quit reading Patricia Cornwall and Elizabeth George because their books were too dark. I rarely read male authors and will NEVER read James Patterson, because it isn't really James Patterson that writes the books any more, is it?

Book setting - I prefer books set in the USA, particularly in and around Washington DC, because I know the area.

Hardcover v Paperback - If a book is only available in printed form, I'll buy the paperback. I only buy hardbacks at booksignings from writers I know. Also, I feel betrayed by a publisher when a series starts as a paperback and changes to hardback. It's like a BROKEN AGREEMENT to the reader. So I wait for the paperback or find the ebook.

Meeting the Authors - I love this part! Living in the DC area, I've been lucky to meet wonderful authors. And I tend to buy more books than I should at their booksignings.

Like the others here, I'm a book-a-holic, and I buy books mostly from an Indie here in the small town where I live. They often have readings, and I have met some wonderful authors and love just listening to them. I love your blogs and purchased books from you all, or demanded them from my library. I don't read "hot" books unless they are recommended by friends, Some authors are must haves, and for most hardbacks, I go to Amazon due to budget issues. I'm a dinosaur, but I want that paper in my hands, and I have older eyes so books are required. Great topic for thought...

At the risk of being burned at the stake as a heretic, I must admit that My Sweet Angel and I buy most of our books used or check them out from the library. The notable exception was the final Harry Potter book, which we bought new at Wal Mart the day it came out, read in a couple of days and then sold for a buck more than we paid for it.

This is all because we are in what I hope is the middle of a multi-year Adventure In Poverty and the price of new books forces us into the "eat or read" choice.

We never buy the "HOT" books, even when we can afford to.

COVERS almost never make me want to buy a book, unless that cover has some character I love on it. Even then I'll read a few pages to try and find hidden suckage.

SAME AUTHOR, DIFFERENT BOOK might get my attention, but it had darned well better be a good new book. I love Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, but his fantasy series barely held me for the first book. My wife, who reads fantasy novels like thay are made of chocolate sex, managed to get through the first three before calling it quits.

I like to read about LOCATIONS, regardless of if I've been there or not. One good thing about being a roleplaying gamer is that I've gotten the chance to "visit" many settings you can't ordinarily go to. I highly recommend Steampunk Victorian London or just about anywhere in the Pulp 1930's.

Aside from some of my personal friends who have written novels (usually, but not always, based on an RPG setting), I don't know that I'd go out of my way just to meet an author unless they were really close to where I live or putting in an appearence at a gaming con. Present company excepted, of course, since I would ride a wild hog through a briar thicket to meet one of the Tarts:)

When I was in elementary school, I zipped through the school library. Fortunately, one of our city's library branches was across the street from school. I have wonderful memories of sitting in the cozy back room and the librarian (they named this particular branch after her) would find me curled up in a chair by the window. My mother would call looking for me. It was dark outside and I hadn't come home from school. She knew exactly where I was. I read a lot of Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary, Walter Farley. We still laugh at the time I tried to check out a more adult book (I was in 7th grade) and Ms. Linneman called my mother to make sure it was alright. Mom told her to let me read whatever I wanted.

Reading was always a way to escape and experience new people, places. I remember walking to the dentist's office after school. It was over a jewelry store on Main Street...Downtown! Mattingly's dime store was in the same block & Woolsworth's was across the street. After being tortured at the dentist, I would go to these stores looking for my Whitman Children's books. Eighty nine cents for a hardcover book. Donna Parker, Powers Boys, Annette, all kinds of different books. I still have these books put away in a box. My daughter wasn't interested in them, but maybe her daughter will want to know what Grandma read as a little girl.

Karen, the first time that I read a Nicholas Sparks novel my husband was in the kitchen and I was in the front room sobbing so hard that he finally asked "What's the matter with you?" Between big gulps I said "this book is soooo sad, I can't help myself from crying."
"Okay", he said. "I forbid you to read that author anymore. I do not want to hear the bawling." Being a strongminded woman..oh yeah..LOL I was relieved to get his command because I did not want to cry anymore!

Marie that is so funny!

Back before having my daughter, I read Marilyn French's "The Woman's Room". I got so pissed off after I read that book. A couple of years later, for whatever reason, I read it again. Same thing. Dear Hubby got rid of the book because he just couldn't take it.

Hmmm...I seem to be one of the last to post (we move at a slower pace in Kansas) which gives me the benefit of reading everyone else's response. I also love to read, but also value my time. So, I only read recommendations from others. I never read 'buzz' books because they are never that good. I also aam a tried an true book store lover! I love the book store experience at designated book stores, not Costco, Target, etc. I, too, like to indulge in buying books. Others like to spend money on other things, but I like to invest in books. With that said, I am guilty of judging a book by its cover if I am not familiar with the author. Right now I am reading the novels my two kids are reading in school. We read the assigned chapters and have actual conversations about the literary elements of the book. My 8th grader and I just finished To Kill A Mockingbird - and I honestly got so much more from this novel this time. But I am off topic, so I buy books based on recommendation, genre, and author. I have heard authors speak, but have not been impressed since, they simply regergitate the book. I would like to get to know them as a person. I read for aesthetic purposes and I will look for books that allow me that pleasure.

Hi my name is Gaylin and I am also a book slut.
I read across all genres, basically if I pick it up and the first page interests me I give it a try.
I use the library a lot but also buy books. Paperbacks due space consideration in my apartment . . .
Up here our big bookstore is Chapters and they carry a big selection. A indi bookstore just closed near where I live, I used to go in there and hunt in vain for a good book but they were too far into the literary world for me. No I don't read what is hot. Don't read anything Oprah recommends, I tried and I just don't like long drawn out agony books, which a lot of hers are. (at least to me)
If my family recommends it, I don't read it. They also like the long drawn out agony books.
I don't go to Costco etc, so don't books there. We have the Book Warehouse for older books at great prices.
I will buy the same author again and again, until they get repetitive.
I will buy 'fluffy' books for airplane travel, books I won't feel bad to read and abandon.
I would love to meet more authors but they don't come up here often. I did meet Diana Gabaldon years ago at a writers conference and she was pretty funny at the time.
I recently started reading more YA books, some really good reads there.
If I pick up a book and the first paragraph doesn't make me care even a little bit about someone or something, it gets put back down.
To me it doesn't matter that much where a book is set, more when it is set. Don't go into the historical stuff too much, I prefer the here and now or the future.
Great topic Kathy, thanks.
I am at the library right now, about to walk a block to the book store, this is what I do with my friday's off . . .

What I buy – Like William. I’m a book slut. I have books all over the house. Mostly I buy mysteries. I'm at the sneaking books in the house stage.

Hot books – no way. They are usually crap. Case in point, Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol”. People say his stories are great. That book was one long snooze fest. And you can’t pay me enough money to read one of Oprah’s picks.

Where do I buy – if I can get away with it, I’ll get it from the library but in most cases, I get it from the Indie bookstore down the street. If I preorder it, they give me 20% discount and when you buy as many books as I do, it’s a selling point.

Same author – once I get started on a series, I’ll usually stick with it but if there are 2 duds in a row, it’s a goner.

Location – doesn’t really matter to me.

Covers – as a graphic design student, I’m fascinated by the cover art. I don’t particular care for the dark and monochromatic covers that are the rage right now. Sorry, Hank! I’ve got all your books but the covers aren’t that exciting to me. I like Berkley’s covers. They are usually light and colorful.

Meeting the author – I love to meet the authors. But I think I live on the final frontier. No one ever seems to want to come to Boise, Idaho. Well, maybe one person but she lives here - Joanne Pence.

With what I laughingly call a budget, my book purchases are few & far between and for the past 3 yrs, have only been tart books!
I read for entertainment and don't want anything depressing or with redeeming social content.
Location; LOL, in Elaine's latest Josie Marcus, every time I read 'Rock Rd' I had to mentally convert it to 'Rock Hill' (did Rock Hill piss you off? BTW, I think I saw Josie's vet on tv with the latest animal hoarder bust. Nice!LOL)
Covers don't affect me, I do read the blurbs on the back cover and comments made by other authors.
Yes, who the hell promotes these 'hot' authors??Patricia Cornwell stole Robert W. Walker's plots & characters, just changed the names, but she's not half the writer he is. I don't know if I'd want to meet him tho, he's got to have a dark side from what he writes >>shiver<< LOL

Fantastic post today!



I'm a busy student, so when I buy books to read for pleasure I'm pretty specific.
I want something that is entertaining but not idiotic, preferably paperback (they are lighter and cheaper), and I buy them at a bookstore (lucky me, I live blocks from an awesome independent one).
My first method of choosing is to try and find an author that I already like. When I find one, I'm incredibly loyal and apt to read everything they've written, even if they write a lousy one occasionally. If they are really awesome, I'll watch for new ones and even buy hardback copies when I'm darn sure the author writes great characters and is likely to make me laugh. Note that my shelves include hardbacks by Sarah Strohmeyer :)
Other than that, I generally shop by reading the first few pages, or by asking the two professional book critics in my life for a suggestion.
I could care less what other critics think, though. If it has a horrible cover, I'll admit that it might sway me not pick it up at all. I generally read the blurb to see if I've read the book before, too.
I'm more likely to buy a book set in contemporary time, less likely to buy a book if it features time travel (unless maybe sci fi?). There are also some things that I cannot abide, including cat mysteries, anything that puts zombies/monsters into Austen, or autobiographies of people with nothing to contribute to society. Confessions of an Heiress, anyone?
Hope that helps.

Two more book whores live in this hovel which might not be such a hovel if we bought fewer books. It would also be easier to walk down the hall, sit on the sofa or eat from a plate sitting on a table. We buy books nearly everywhere except Sams/Walmart/Costco. Annually, we take out a loan and head to the LA Times Festival of Books. Last year, we went to the group grope Meet the Authors cocktail party at LA’s Mystery Bookstore and dropped all our money there. (Pix of a couple of the readers in the family and the bookstore http://picasaweb.google.com/mrylynnreed/Books# ) We live a fair clip from the bookstore, so it takes some kind of incentive, like meeting someone we cyber-know, to get us up there.

I actually quit reading an author’s books because he was a jerk at a meet-and-greet one time.

I’ve learned to use Amazon like a humungous card catalog with reviews and suggestions. I rarely buy new books from them, but out-of-print used books is a different issue. I love my one-click option. If at all possible, I use that one-click to purchase from http://www.betterworldbooks.com

I will listen to friends’ recommendations but check out the reviews on Amazon, both good and bad, before I will buy it. I’m author loyal until they run out of stories and are just churning.

Covers don’t attract me as a rule. Locale per se won’t do it unless it’s home. I got started with Charlaine Harris via the Harper Connelly series. I’m from the Ozarks. Not a lot of books are set in the ‘Zarks. However, the combination of time and setting can do it, particularly medieval and early Renaissance Europe.

I have an excellent public library, and have tended to get books there rather than buy them. However, I recently got a Kindle, and have bought four books in the last week for that.

Hot books - I tend to ignore the bestseller lists, but if a friend recommends it, I'll read it.

Where - Well, the Kindle has upped my purchasing, so now Amazon is a leading place. I've often tossed a book into the cart at Target. If we stop at B&N or Borders, I'll buy several, so we tend not to stop there more than every couple of months so the books don't get out of hand.

Author - I definitely buy repeat books from favorite authors. There are a few whose series have grown tired, and I now wait until the book is on the shelf at the library, or ignore altogether. I will also look for books that have received positive mentions in reviews, and other books by the same author if they're available and the new one is not. I started reading Sarah Strohmeyer after the positive review of the Penny Pinchers Club in the Washington Post.

Setting/Location - not a factor.

Cover - If I'm browsing, it can draw me in or not. Won't matter if I'm familiar with the author, but might matter a lot if I'm not.

Meeting the author - I haven't met any writers, so I don't know. Probably it would. I tend to look for a book if I've like an author's interview on local tv.

Mary K, it's funny that you mentioned The Penny Pinchers Club. I just finished reading it, not five minutes ago!

Usually when it's this late I won't respond, but I figure the more info the better - right? So here goes:

Do you buy whatever book is "so HOT right now"?

Not really, I'm so clueless I have a very vague idea of what's hot. It takes several recommendations from friends or family members to get me to read unfamiliar non-mystery books.

WHERE you buy books - does it matter?

Everywhere I can. The only independents in town are used book dealers. We have B&N and Borders. I go to book sales where ever they are.

Same Author, Different Book

I do tend to try authors I know first. I use the library to discover new ( to me) authors. If I really like a book and figure I'll reread it, I'll go out and get the hardcover version. I fall out of love with authors at times. I think the average reader can only get through four Michener novels, after that you're sick of them. The books by the Tarts are strong, will buy them when I see them and I have several in hardcover.

Location, location, location

An interesting location, or culture, or time period will cause me to grab a new author's book. Otherwise it doesn't matter.

Can You Tell A Book By Its Cover?

I picked up Harley's second book because of the bright colors. Is that shallow or what? After reading it I sought out the first one and then three and four as they came out. They lead me to TLC. If it's an author I know, it doesn't matter much. The blurbs and description are a bit more important but I've got to pull it out to read them. I started reading Patricia Smiley because I liked the book cover.


What About Meeting the Author?

I've only met one author, that was Arthur C. Clarke at a talk at a University. I was already reading his books but his talk made me choose my career path (telecommunications.) After reading the blog, I really want to attend a book signing. I've never done that. But obviously it doesn't affect my book buying.

Harley, I had no idea that children's books could be so expensive. That's like buying a college text! I can't imagine that. When my son was in first grade, the teacher had a contest as to who could read the most books. He is still the record holder at 1000 (He's 27 now.) At those prices he would have been last. That's a real shame.

You guys are all amazing! I need to print this out and keep it with all my "marketing" info. It's a thorough (and delightful) cross section of consumer habits. Wow.

I'm still curious about Harley's very expensive book -- was it covered with gold??
I'm grateful for the library and was just wondering about the fact that with a Kindle, one couldn't borrow books, could one?

One other book source, the library book sales -- clear your shelves, donate books -- they keep some, give some away for summer reading programs, sell the rest to patrons. The circle of books . . .

One thing not mentioned above - if a book is set in a real location, and I am familiar with it, I want it to be right. It drives me nuts when a book is set somewhere I know and it is all wrong! Such as books set in Texas and cities and towns are closer than in real life. In reality, everything in Texas is a good ways away from everything else. Making a quick trip anywhere just doesn't happen.

I generally buy hardcover versions of authors I know and love - Lindsey Davis, Michael Connolly, Robert Crais, Jacqueline Winspear to name a few. I will buy back titles in paperback if I think I'm going to like the series. I'll read pretty much anything my favorites write, series or not, fiction or non-fiction. If Oprah recommends it, I will avoid it because Oprah annoys me. Blogs like this are good places for recommendations to new authors. If I can read the first chapter on Amazon, I can generally tell if I will like the writer's "voice," and give them a shot. I will buy online, new, used, and at any local chain or independent store I come across. I'm probably in the minority, but I've been to exactly one book signing, involving Jonathan Gash and Edward Marston back in the late '80's. One was very full of himself as the artiste raconteur, and one so posh I was intimidated to talk to him, so I've never gone to another. I'm sure you're all lovely people, but I don't want to risk losing the good read if you're having an off day. It'd be like finding out your favorite actor is an absolute jerk to people in real life. You write well, I don't want to know anything else that might destroy our author/reader relationship.

I'm a little late, but I had to work this morning.

Where I buy books- I will buy books wherever I find one I want. I buy online quite a bit and usually try to order from Powell’s when I can. I also borrow from the library and have a subscription for paperback rentals that sends me books via mail, and I try a lot of new authors that way.

Same author/different book- As long as the author is telling stories I want to read, I’ll stick with them, but if the stories start to bore me, I will stop reading. I’ve finally accepted that I’m never going to be able to read all the books I want to read, so I refuse to stick with a book that I’m not enjoying. When I buy books, I generally look for authors I trust before looking for new authors and will often structure purchases, so that I’m buying mostly favorite authors with one or two new authors to try.

Location- I’m not picky about location, although if choosing between two books, location can be a deciding factor if I’m stuck, usually going with one in a setting I know.

Covers- I don’t pay much attention to covers. I’m usually more interested in reading the back of the book to see what it’s about than I am on what’s on the cover.

Meeting the author- I live in a small town, there aren’t many occasions to meet authors, so that doesn’t influence what I buy. I have found new authors via blogs and that will influence my purchases. I’ve tried many authors because I liked their blog posts and wanted to see what their books were like.

A small hijack...
Not only have joined the land of the book sluts I have now become a movie slut. Today on our date day/night we went to see "Cop Out" with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Much my to my husband's chagrin I, along with other lowbrow fools was lauging so hard at this buddy cop movie. Sure, there were plenty of gross moments but the most fun was watching Bruce Willis trying to keep from laughing at Tracy Morgan'd antics.
Now all I have to do is revert to my more sedate ways in order to convince hubby to bring a more ladylike woman to the next movie..I hope that it is me. How did the date end? I do not know..the night is not over yet!

Word of mouth recommendations from fellow readers is the #1 thing to make me get a book. Now, where I get said book will vary. I'm into swaptree these days, so I try and trade for said book first. If that's not an option, I check the library (I work there), if that doesn't work and I do end up buying it, I will more than likely get it at half.com.
As for what's "popular" I tend to read those later, if at all. Like I said, word of mouth for me, or simply a story line that catches my attention. Example, I am just now getting around to reading the Time Traveler's Wife.
I do have a favorite author or two that I will read no matter what, simply because I usually love their books and they are worth a read. However, there have also been authors that I have dropped a series because it became stale for me.
I don't judge books by their covers, though I have been taken by a particular book cover that I thought was clever. I just read a book recently and I thought the cover was neat, but I'd already decided I wanted to read it (based on a friend's recommendation) so the cover being cool was just a bonus.
I've never met an author, so I don't know if that would persuade me to buy their book or not. I really don't think so. I don't think meeting the author would make much of a difference for me.

Mary Storyteller -

Regarding "borrowing" ebooks...the Sony .pub and Adobe .pdf readers allow you to borrow ebooks from libraries, which are constantly adding new titles.

Also with the B&N's new ereader NOOK, you can borrow ebooks from and lend ebooks to other B&N ebook customers.

Did you know that almost all the ereaders (including Sony, Kindle, Nook, Adobe ereader & Mobipocket) can be downloaded to your PC and read on your computer? So even if you don't have one of those ebook reader devices, you can still read ebooks.

Thanks to everyone for such thoughtful responses!

You guys are amazing and I knew I could count on you for candor, as well as some really useful information!

Do I Buy Hot Books?

Not unless I really like the author.

Where do I buy books?

Mostly Amazon because I have one-click shopping. I'm also a regular at Barnes & Noble and Border's. Have never bought a book at Costco. I think I'm a book princess because I don't like books from the library, used book stores or loans from friends. I want my own, new, clean, un-highlighted books.

Same Author, Different Book?

I almost always buy all of the books written by authors I like. I wait anxiously for new ones when they're due to come out. Sometimes I'm disappointed though. Loved Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Was looking forward to her latest book, Commitment, but it's not doing it for me. It's really a let down when a great book is followed by a dud.

Can You Tell a Book by Its Cover?

Nope. I have hundreds of books and couldn't tell you what's on the cover of any of them.

Meet the Author?

Doesn't matter to me. If I get a chance to meet one of my favorite authors, it's icing on the cake. If I see an author on TV who interests me, I'll probably buy their book or at least browse through it at B&N. There are tons of people I've met and like who can't write for crap.

My husband wrote a book that's a best seller in legal circles (more than 25,000). He published it himself back in the 80's as he wasn't about to share the profits with a publisher. He says he sold so many of them because he traveled the country doing CLE and paralegal training speeches. The general public wouldn't be interested in "Writing for Lawyers" if they found it in a book store but they might want to read it after meeting my husband. He's a very down to earth and engaging speaker. The book went out of print about ten years ago because he didn't want the hassle of taking orders and shipping. He used to pay his secretary to do that for him but she got married and moved away.

He recently looked into Amazon's Book Surge and found it to his liking. For $800 and a percentage of the sales, they reproduced his book -- cover and all -- (actually I think their version is a higher quality than his although he'd never agree) and they sell it on Amazon. It's listed on the Amazon website and they print it as people order it. (No inventory sitting around collecting dust.) So, HE wrote the book. THEY post it on the web, print it, pack and ship it and take care of billing and payments. The price of the book is $21.95 and Hollis gets $10 for each book sold. He has a bank account set up just for book proceeds and they wire his his take of the profits regularly. At this point, he just sits back and collects money. Sort of like the Ron Popiel Rotisserie -- set it and forget it.

HOT BOOKS: Almost never read them, and I don't buy them. I'm the same way with movies and TV shows. It's not intentional, but for some reason I can't work up any interest in them.

WHERE: Bookstores. There's an independent in Chicago where the employees make great recommendations and I love to support that kind of shop.

SAME AUTHOR: Yes, I'll try books in which favorite authors try new things. I try to do that with an open mind, because sometimes it takes a couple of books for the author to hit her stride or for me to adjust.

LOCATION: I don't think I'm especially picky about settings, although generally I want contemporary settings.

COVERS: Not important to me. I appreciate good cover art but it's just icing on the cake.

MEETING AUTHORS: Meeting an author is definitely an incentive for me to try a book. Because I read a fairly wide range of fiction, I'm happy to be exposed to new authors and almost always willing to read something new.

MISC.: Almost everything I read is from the library. But I know I owe something to authors whose work I enjoy, so once I've read something I really like, I'll buy a copy or two and use them as gifts. I do the same with series I enjoy, because I know they need sales to keep going.

I find new authors mostly through recommendations from friends and places like TLC. (I just finished Mary Kennedy's Dead Air last night. I discovered it when Mary guest blogged here.) I read some reviews but they're not nearly as persuasive as something I consider more reliable, like word of mouth from someone with whom I share taste in books, or an author's style on a blog or even in comments.

I have bought more books than I know what to do with. Luckily the shelves of books help insulate the house. I read whatever catches my attention. I do tend to read book series. I like continuity. The cover is not a big factor for my decision. I tend to go by recommendation. I love my local bookstore. The owner knows what is out and also has an idea of the type of books I like.

I read a lot of reviews, although to be honest some reviews leave me feeling that I have just finished the book. A good review can sell a book for me though.

I am not genre specific. I read anything written. I was even caught by the midwife reading through labor. Books are the things that get me though very dark times. Stories are the basis of my daydreams and I need good fuel for those.

I very seldom read what is being pushed at me by the masses. Mostly because I am stubborn.
There is nothing as exciting as walking into a bookstore and coming out with a treasure. I take books with me when I have my night out alone. They make great dinner partners.

Mostly I buy paperbacks but I try to buy hardcover when I can if the cost is not prohibitive.

The location of a story does not really matter. I like the variety of places you find yourself in when you read. Winter does tend to send me to more southern climes for my reading.

There are many pieces and even some serendipity for me in choosing a book. But GOOD writing is a definite must. I may read a lot but that does not I am not particular. Luckily there are far more good books out there than the NY Times lets us believe.

I was visiting my mom in Dallas many years ago, and thus had to listen to the local morning show on television with Mom. They were interviewing a smart woman from New York with a great sense of humor, and mentioned that her knowledge as an architect and long-time resident of New York went into her books. I copied down 'S.J. Rozan' on my reading list and found one of her books in the Santa Monica public library a few months later, and have since read everything she has written and am waiting for the next one.

I also tend to appreciate the extended author interviews on NPR--some of them leave me convinced I need not buy that author's books, but some make it to my 'must read' list.

Sam's Club, Costco, Target? No way. Last year, when I realized my budget was not going the right direction and probably wouldn't for a while, I tried to make myself buy books at Target, but it just didn't work. I hated the selection and didn't like the quality of what I saw there. Besides, as a writer myself, and as three of my closest friends are hard-working fiction authors, I know what goes into creating a high-quality book, and it's my conviction that everyone who can afford to buy new should do so at an independent bookstore. I understand and am glad that sales through other venues can nonetheless promote the longevity of a title and bring some smaller rewards to the author.
Buy vs. library: a couple of times over the years, I've either had my personal library destroyed or had to seriously pare back what I could keep. This has led me to realize that I only 'need' to own books that I truly, truly value and will re-read with deep appreciation.
I've mentioned here before my relationship with my local B&N, which has smart and informed staff who actually take the time to talk with customers and promote authors, it feels like a very businesslike independent instead of a big chain, which I appreciate. There are a few independents that are out of reach of my cranky old vehicle here, or I'd likely make a point to buy from them more often.
I only buy reference texts on amazon, although I occasionally use it to check out titles that friends have recommended . . . but I seldom, if ever, buy fiction there.
L.A. Festival of Books and meeting authors in the 'green room' there has a big impact on my choices across the reading spectrum. I've had good impression of an author from attending her panel and then seen her in the green room and thought how terrific she is as she greets and enjoys others . . . but also have seen a different author turn into a total egotistical iceberg and snub me and others--very revealing. Didn't give the second author a second thought in the bookstore at buying time. I love high-quality non-fiction, and can't think of a better place than the festival to learn what's out there, except the NYT Review of Books, which, sadly, I seldom afford these days.
Author bookstore appearances and signing are iffy--I love to meet authors I know, but if they're rushed or have a headache or a plane to meet, it is hard to feel they're really the least bit interested in meeting readers.

BTW: Rhys Bowen, Laurie King and another author are doing an event at SM main library Weds. Mar. 10 in the evening . . . guess in connection with West Coast Crime.

re: Oprah--I haven't a clue what's on her list because I work and don't watch daytime tv, but I loved that she was bringing books to the public's attention--in my book, anyone who promotes reading is doing a public service, whether I like their tastes or not.

MOST important: the writing has to be good. HAS to be good. First paragraph/page has to grab me, and the quality has to stay high. Covers--v. important. Only a solid recommendation and excellent first page will get me past a bad cover.

Interesting coversation and my first time reading here--
HOT books? In my opinion it's hot only when I say it is!

Where to buy? Just about anywhere-especially if I finish a book in my travels and didn't bring a spare. I risked missing a flight in SLC just so I could read something other than an inflight magazine! BN, Powells, airport book stores, used stores... There is even an iPhone app for Indie booksellers.

Same author? Definitely as long as they remain enjoyable. After Olivia Butler Book died, I searched out as many as I could.
Location--sometimes the author involves me so much in his location that I have to visit. My husband and I planned a vacation to New Iberia/Breaux Bridge to visit James Lee Burke's locale.
Cover really doesn't matter but the synopsis on inside cover does.

Meeting the author is not important to me. It's kind of like a book vs a movie. I have my own ideas as to what the author should be and don't want to be disappointed by reality.

Hey Pat - The TLC Tarts have a great blog with wonderful, intelligent backbloggers. Welcome!

I just caught up on my reads today and thought I would comment. I belong to a small book club here and buy whatever selection we choose. This month they are reading a book I had recommended so I am ahead of the game. I rely on recommendations from a few select friends and from my cousin who is a voracious reader. I do not pay attention to what Oprah recommends after her fiasco of "A Million Pieces" or whatever that was about the druggie turned author faux memoir. I have found her selections to be dreary, but with a good read now and then. I do watch the NYTimes best sellers list and the Sunday book reviews in the Minneapolis newspaper. I buy at Barnes & Noble becuase it is the only big book store in this area of the Midwest where I live. I do buy at Sam's Club, if it is a book I'm looking for. I have seldom browsed there for a book. (I pick up many books used at Library sales and garage sales. I cannot pass up a book sale) I have not been buying as much lately on Amazon.com but only because my to read shelves are over flowing.

1. First, if I hear that it is Oprah recommended, I tend to run the other direction. Fast. It is a shame really, as I could possibly be missing some amazing work. However, there it is. Same thing as book critics….I will judge for myself if a new-to-me author sounds interesting enough for me to consider.

2. The majority of my books are from bookstores, the brick & mortar variety. Especially if it is a favorite author, as I like to be sure that my purchase counts towards the book lists. So mostly, I am living at B&N or my local independent, Chester County Books in West Chester. However, if they don’t have it, I will then order what I need…but still the bookstore. Only on the rare occasion have I even done a Walmart book purchase.

3. Since I tend to like my author’s as people first, I don’t mind if they want to branch out and change things up. Sometimes taking a break from a series can help get the creative juices flowing, or even reinvigorate my reading. I figure a series cant go on forever, regardless of how much the characters are loved, so will read whatever with an open and inquisitive mind.

4. I have been many places over the years in the western hemisphere. So, I don’t purchase books for the travel aspect. If it is there? No problem, as long as it fits with the story. Although, if a story takes place nearby, I do tend to enjoy that.

5. Heck, no! Didn’t your mama ever talk to you about judging a book by it’s cover??? Besides, whatever the cover, the author usually didn’t design it, therefore it isn’t always a very good representation of what is inside. And it is what is on the inside that we are paying for anyway!

6. It is expensive, which is why I am usually game for a bit of travel to see my favorite authors. Like the first time that I met Sarah, a bunch of us road-tripped from the Philadelphia area up the Danville (3+ hours) for an evening signing and then back again. I have never regretted it, even though I had actually not read Sarah yet, just trusted another friend’s recommendation. And going to Pittsburgh for RT the other year? Or up to northern NJ for their convention? Yes, it is easier on me if my authors come local, but it is not always gonna happen. Does it help sales? Sometimes, especially when there are folks that have never read the author but are intrigued by the signing. However, if a signing isn’t advertised much, it could be a flop for the store. Of course, I have three local bookstores begging me to get all of you to visit at your earliest convenience. Oh, and I tend to only auto-purchase from authors with whom I have either met or chatted with (in any context), and have thus gotten to decide if I like the author personally. Yes? I will be the loudest cheerleader. No? Watch out, because I don’t like rudeness from people who think that they have the right to be rude. :)

No I don't usually buy the "hot" right now books, but I do use it as way to checkout some of the author's older stuff. If I like it then I will try the "hot" book behind the crowd. I don't mind waiting the majority of the time.

I have purchased books most everywhere. Honest truth though, the only way I can support my reading habbit is to hit the library regularly! 20 books a month is just too much at this time. Luckily I have an amazing library!

If I read an author and love the book, then I immediately start searching out other books. I will even give an author 2 not so stellar books before I move on, but if the 3rd book is bad as well I consider the first a fluke and move on.

Bring on location. My only preference is everything. I love finding books close to home, but still like to experience the far off places too! Anything goes!

Cover is huge for me. If the cover does not have the "style" I look for I usually won't even flip it over/open it. But you've still got to win me over, before I buy.

I can't say to hearing an author speak, as I am a bit off the beaten path. Though it would be entertaining, I suspect hearing an author is not all that important for me.

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